Well most of you know me for being a bit of a domestic goddess with a tongue sharper than glass. It took a long time to get here (in all 26 years of being alive). I have really debated about sharing this here; well sharing it at all, however I think it needs to be done. Partly for closure for me, and partly to hopefully help other women-who knows?
I met my husband when I was 14. In a youth group branched from my Sunday school. He became my best friend there and then, and until we hit 20 that’s all it was.
I had a “long term” boyfriend through my teen years and we broke up when I was 18. It was then I met James*. I met him in a bar in Cardiff. I was out with my gay friend Stuart who asked me to approach this man and ask if he was gay.
I looked over to who he was talking to and had to catch my breath. There stood a man about 6″3, mixed race (black and white) muscly and ever so beautiful.
I walked over and said:
“Urm my friend wants to know if you’re gay?”
“No I’m not, would you like a drink?”.
And from there we hit it off. He was from the Midlands and I was due to start studying in university in Bath. But it was only June, university didn’t start until October. We commuted the insane distance and before much longer things turned hideous, very quickly.
He alienated me from my friends and family. He banned me from speaking to Pete (my now husband) and all the other girls and boys in my youth group. He made horrific remarks about my family. He didn’t allow me to talk to girls in case they influenced me to behave in appropriately.
James was confused. He was the product of an affair where his mother was the mistress. For this, he hated women. He had an on/off affair with a warped side of Islam and believed I was a product he could dispose of.
He basically broke me down until the only thing I had to cling onto was him.
Those of you who know me probably think this sounds ridiculous. I am aware of this, but this is how abusers work.
He didn’t want me to wear make up in case I enticed other men. Clothing had to be pre-approved. Jobs were a no go.
When it came to my second year in uni, he told me I couldn’t live in halls or house share in case there were males around. I ended up renting a ludicrously high rent apartment in the centre of Bath.
Never once did I go to the Student Union there.
He began to trace me. If I popped to Sainsbo’s to go food shopping he’d time me and then ring the house phone in the time he thought it should have taken me. He’d ring at odd hours at night to ensure I was there.
Financially it crippled me, catching the train every Friday, not being allowed a job and so on.
Then the violence started.
Just began with him trying to strangle me one time we were decorating his bedroom in his house. Then he was sorry. Self loathing.
Then it was a shove.
Then he spat in my face.
He smacked me in the face with a remote control because he “caught” me watching Desperate Housewives which was apparently full of “loose women”.
You see, he had broken me down so much so I couldn’t get out. He made me think my family wouldn’t be there for me, and he’d ensured that I had no friends.
This lasted for two years. I then had a breakdown. I saw a counsellor. I stayed at home with my parents and slept a fortnight, desperate for him to come back in my life and validate me, give me approval. I wanted to kill myself.
I went back to him. By this point I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know who I was without him telling me.
Then I joined an internet website where you can chat to other people. I started talking to a Dutch boy called Ray. Within 24 hours of knowing him I told him everything. I told him I wanted out. And he basically gave me the shove I needed.
I rang James and ended it. I then rang the police to let them know what he was capable of.
Four hours later he banged on my door (my upstairs neighbour had buzzed him in being none the wiser). I had turned off all the lights and locked up, waiting, for I knew what he would do. I peered through the peephole and saw him waiting, then something on the stairs caught my eye.
Two of his friends, one holding a machete.
His two friends were part of a fundamental Islamic group and I hadn’t doubted for a second that honour killing would escape their minds.
I rang 999 and within minutes the police were outside. I gave them a statement and never saw him again.
I was broken by that point. Scared of my own shadow. Not knowing who I was anymore, how I should be, how I should dress and more importantly how to make friends.
My point is, throughout my whole life with him I didn’t think I’d ever leave. I wanted to, I was scared and I didn’t know how to “be” without him. I did it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Also the hardest.
If any of you are struggling with domestic violence, don’t let it go on. Speak to a stranger, they’re ideal. To this day, Ray and I are still friends. He has been here to visit a few times and has recently gotten married.